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Jo Ann Barefoot explores how to create fair and inclusive consumer financial services through innovative ideas for industry and regulators

A Millennial Building for Millennials - Ollie Perdue of Loot

Barefoot Innovation Podcast

A Millennial Building for Millennials - Ollie Perdue of Loot

Jo Ann Barefoot

Today’s show features one of the most  interesting startups in London.

I was there in in late 2015 and looked up someone I’d been wanting to meet -- Jean-
Stephane Gourevitch,
(see more on Jean-Stephane below -- he is behind many of the most interesting fintech developments in Europe and will be on the show one day soon).  We met for coffee on the south bank of the Thames, near the Shard hotel, and he brought along a young entrepreneur, Ollie Perdue of Loot. Ollie showed me a quick Loot demo on his phone, and ever since, I’ve been avidly watching their progress.

A year later, I had a chance to do a podcast with Ollie. Sitting amidst their whiteboards marked up with problem-solving sketches and waiting list queues, he filled me in on their progress.

Loot is an app paired with a prepaid debit card, offering tremendously useful tools for easy budgeting, payments, and simple ways to set financial goals and get coached about how best to meet them. They also analyze the customer’s spending patterns and benchmark against peers -- helping the huge numbers of people who simply have no idea where they stand compared to where they should be, in financial health.

In our conversation Ollie describes how it all works, including how he got going and how he’s managed to launch something so impressive while still in his early twenties.The company has gotten a lot of attention, including raising an additional $3.13 in venture funds late last year. It’s aimed at young people and is one of the best offerings I’ve seen in hitting that sweet spot. That includes having an in-app ability to do customer service by text with (what else?) GIF’s.

Skeptics often argue that fintech is too narrow because so much of it aims for millennials. To that, I’d say two things. First, startups, out of sheer financial necessity, have to target early adopters -- markets that are likely to pick up a new product quickly and share it virally. That means a high percentage are starting with millennials. However, I don’t know any that plan to stop with them.

Secondly, millennials are the largest generation in the history of the world, both in the U.S. and globally. They surpassed the baby boomers a couple of  years ago. By sheer numbers alone, they’re going to dominate commerce and culture, just as baby boomers did as they came of age.

I made a speech last month to AFSA, who asked me to talk specifically about millennials as customers. Working on it made me think more deeply, myself, about how important it is that new financial technology is emerging concurrently with the rise of this huge generation -- whom we know, as both consumers and employees, want everything to be optimized by technology -- to be well-designed, fast, easy, friendly, engaging, and all the rest. If technology was changing, but customers weren’t, we can imagine slow adoption of innovation. Instead, today, both halves are transforming together -- the product and the user. That will change the market, not only for young customers, but for everyone, and in some ways, faster than we might think.

Millennials should not be underestimated -- especially thoughtful, energetic entrepreneurs like

Ollie Purdue.

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More for our listeners:

I'll hope to see you in March at LendIt in New York and SXSW in Austin. Also come to the FinXTech Summit in April and of course CFSI’s Emerge in June.

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